Sunday, April 15, 2001

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon delivered an updated message of
marriage, family, faith and tolerance yesterday at the Hilton
Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom.

Rev. Moon
attracts hundreds
in Hawaii

Visiting Asians give the earthy
preacher an enthusiastic base

By Mary Adamski

An earlier generation lamented when their children embraced the messianic movement of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Yesterday, hundreds of Hawaii church people flocked to hear the Korean evangelist speak - and many brought their youngsters along.

A speech emphasizing the sanctity of marriage and family, an end to racial prejudice and "tearing down the walls of denominationalization" made Moon sound like a combination of conservative Christianity, liberal politics and ecumenism rolled into one.

About 1,500 people attended the breakfast program as the 81-year-old Moon and his entourage made a brief stop in his 50 states in 52 days "We Will Stand" tour. The choirs and pastors of several local Pentecostal Christian congregations participated in the program.

"Recently, many young couples don't care about lineage, they don't want children, just want to enjoy life. They are less than human," said Moon. "If you are guilty of infidelity, you are bound for hell, you are going in the trash can. Wives who avoid having children are committing a sin.

"To have children was God's main purpose for humankind," Moon told the crowd. "Without children, that's not a family. You cannot enter the kingdom of God ... you enter as a family."

He said, "Just by believing in Jesus doesn't mean you will enter the kingdom of heaven."

Moon thundered in the style of a hellfire preacher, speaking in Korean, not always pausing for his interpreter to catch up.

The breakfast program - a stop on Moon's 50-state "We Will
Stand" tour - drew 1,500, including the choirs and pastors
of several local Christian congregations.

More than 500 tourists from Japan and Korea were among the crowd, and they were Moon's most enthusiastic audience. When he paused for a sip of water, raising his glass as a toast, tables full of his Asian followers lifted their glasses in response.

Moon warned at the beginning that his "straight talk may make you uncomfortable." More than an hour of his two-and-a-half hour talk detailed marriage in terms of male and female "love organs."

However they may play in less tolerant areas of America, Moon's ideas about intermarriage between races and lowered barriers between religious denominations didn't cause a flicker in the Hawaii crowd. But the tourists applauded wildly when he described bringing Japanese and Koreans together in marriage, "then you are in-laws and old enmities are ended."

In recent years, Moon has most often drawn news coverage when he performs mass marriage blessings. His past includes a conviction on income tax violations and his speech and pamphlets are full of references to "persecution."

As mainstream as some of his message has become, his self-proclaimed divine mission, targeted by his detractors, is still alive and strong.

"Father and Mother Moon received a commission from Jesus to anoint families," said the Rev. Michael Jenkins, president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the modern form of the Unification Church.

Moon told the crowd, "I have spoken to God and Jesus, I know what to expect in the spirit world."

University of Hawaii religion professor Cromwell Crawford said, "He's not singular in that perspective, every religious leader has a messianic consciousness. No single leader has done more for ecumenism than Rev. Moon."

Crawford, who attended the session and has heard Moon in the past, said "he's consistently stuck by his message. He appeals to the type of mentality that believes it is under siege."

The earthy emphasis on marriage in terms of male and female body parts "is an expression of a charismatic person's spirituality. His style is quite down-to-earth. That's the strength, what makes points with certain audiences."

He said attacks from organized religion that marked Moon's nondenominational movement in the 1960s and 70s fit a historic pattern. "We were all on the fringe once. Every religion has been a 'moonie,' even Christianity was 'moonie' in its time. Every great religious leader was persecuted. We become monopolistic."

Crawford said, "In terms of translating what he says into welfare, this man has an iron in every fire." Among other interests, Moon established the Washington Times and, last year, purchased United Press International news service.

As Moon's talk lengthened - organizers said he has been known to speak for eight hours - groups of the Hawaii audience drifted out of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom.

Ending the program in somewhat of an anticlimax, the Family Federation for World Peace & Unification presented awards to the Family Home Evening Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Mike Gabbard, founder of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values; and Leon Siu, founder of Christian Voice. Moon also presented an award honoring Korean War veterans to retired Lt. Col. Gayle Gardner, founder of the U.S. War Veterans Foundation.

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